Freemasons celebrate 50-year members in Ridgefield

Members of Jerusalem Lodge No. 49 gathered on Dec. 7 to pay tribute to Willard Carter and Walter Wieland. Each has been a Ridgefield resident and Freemason for more than five decades.

An officer from the Grand Lodge of Connecticut, Joe Porco, presided over the evening’s ceremony. The lodge room was relatively full, given COVID-19 restrictions, with local members gathered to celebrate this golden anniversary and witness the presentation of certificates and pins.

The histories of the brothers were read, noting the dates of their Masonic degrees and various offices they held through the years.

Each brother shared the spark that began their Masonic journey. Wieland explained that his father was a Mason, and Carter was inspired by both family and curiosity about the fraternity.

“Being active in Masonry for five decades is an easy thing to do if you are willing to get involved and have active brothers to work and socialize with,” explained Wieland. Over that time, he held nearly every office in the lodge at one point, and he even served as Master twice.

Among the appeals of Freemasonry to Carter was the ability to attend other lodges. He told of how he enjoyed visiting a lodge in Ohio when traveling to see a daughter and her family. Ultimately, he found camaraderie to be among the chief benefits of Freemasonry.

Looking back, both brothers had many fond memories. Wieland shared some of his high points including the birth of his son on the day he was first installed as Master in 1976; his service for the Grand Lodge as Associate Grand Marshall; conducting a Child Identification Program (aka CHIPS) when Master the second time; and helping bring the The Battle of Ridgefield to life with a large-scale reenactment in 2017.

“Freemasonry has given me the chance to grow in ways I never anticipated,” said Wieland. “It made me aware that helping others brought meaning and a sense of accomplishment that comes with doing hands-on work.”

Based on his experience, Wieland says he advises men who are considering joining Freemasonry that getting involved with good works will help build their character and make them better men.

As the evening concluded, Willard was seen borrowing a book on Masonic history, proving that learning is a journey that never ends.

Jerusalem Lodge No. 49 is located next to town hall, and it meets the first and third Monday each month at 7:30 p.m.